Ragnarok Online, one of the most popular MMORPGs on the net. So popular, in fact, that Gravity decided to create a single player DS game based on the franchise as well – Ragnarok DS. Since I haven’t played the computer game myself for more than two hours several years ago, I’ll be writing this article from the standpoint of a person who has only minimal knowledge of the source.
First things first, the game’s graphics are like those in Ragnarok Online. The emoticons too, which is basically how the entire story is told through since little can be conveyed through the fairly simple sprites. The town locations are all the same, as are the continent names, reinforcing the fact that the DS game really is a reformatting of the online game. Character equipment still decorates heroes and can be modified by cards collected from defeated enemies.
The controls in Ragnarok DS rely completely on the touchpad. If you want to attack something, poke it. If you want to order someone else to attack, poke that person and then the target enemy. It’s intuitive and excellently handled, with a high level of precision. The buttons are mostly assigned to menu shortcuts and probably won’t be used for the most part.
Being a one-player game, Ragnarok DS has its own story to go along with it. You are Ales, a novice who wants to be a great adventurer, one who surpasses his father who left his family a long time ago. Ales holds a grudge against his father for leaving his mother behind to care for the two of them alone. This drives him to become stronger – plans that were put in a fix when he meets Sierra, a mysterious young girl who remembers nothing of her past. Some parts in the story seem forced, but the overall flow of the game is solid.
The game places a heavy emphasis on quests (after all, Ales is aiming to start a Guild, and Guilds accept quests, right?), so sometimes you’ll find yourself running across the entire map for either story reasons or to fetch an item or to defeat some monster or another. This can be slightly tiring, since teleportation items are few and far between and can only take you to nearby towns (at least, where I was in the game).
Towns themselves are handled by menu. While you can see a map of the town on the top screen, you can’t actually walk through the town yourself. You have to choose your destination from a menu and then you’re instantly brought to that room.
Another aspect that may rankle some veteran Ragnarok Online players is the lack of classes. While almost everything has been kept from the original game, Ales can only advance to the second-level classes: Knight, Wizard, Hunter, Priest, Assassin, Taekwon Master, and Blacksmith. There are also two classes original to the game – Dark Knight and Shaman – that are critical to the story, although it seems that they can be in your party as well. Other story characters, not the ones you can hire, can advance only to their high-level class.
There is a multiplayer aspect to Ragnarok DS in the form of the Mirage Tower. There, you can link up to your friends via wireless and go through the long dungeon to pick up items and other special goodies. You can also modify your character’s appearance so that not everyone looks like Ales.
Being the only person I know who has this game, I couldn’t try the tower with others, although I did play the first five floors in single player. While I appreciate that GungHo is trying to include an aspect of multiplayer in this remake of an MMORPG, which is all about connections, the dungeon is extremely one-track and, really, only one place. It’s not like you can go to the outside world and journey with them.
Although the game claims the Ragnarok moniker, I felt that it was more of an original game in the shell of Ragnarok Online. The story and characters are original; they’re just told using Ragnarok settings, job system, and graphics. While people new to the series may not care about the differences between Ragnarok DS and its parent game – I sure didn’t – fans may raise cries outrage when they play this game, the result of turning a massively multiplayer game into a single player one.